I’m borderline positive that I have mentioned my love of and, if we’re being honest here, obsession with fermentables before. But, just for a moment, let’s pretend that I haven’t, shall we? Not only do they add a plethora (I”ve been waiting to use that word for close to a week now!) of beneficial bacteria to your digestive system but they also add a depth of flavor to many dishes that just can’t be imitated. Fermentables are old. Like really, really, really OLD. I’m talking Neolithic times old and if you don’t believe me, check out what this guy, Michael Pollan, has to say about it.
Check out his books here–>Michael Pollan
They’ve been around for so long that most people are so used to them they don’t notice them in their diet!
The reason I bring this up is because the term “fermentables” to a non-fermenter – I can make up words, it’s my blog – isn’t really all that clear or appetizing. So just in case you were curious, when I say “fermentables” I mean all the really good stuff. Pickles, kimchi, sauerkraut, cheese, mustard, ketchup, kefir, kombucha, hot sauce, salami, wine and beer! Oh my! And those are just some of the things, the delicious “Hey I eat that all the time!” things that I’m taking about when you read “fermentables”.
As much as I absolutely love to fill my diet and the meal plans of my clients with all of the healthy fermentables I can, I was feeling as though I didn’t have the time or the know how to make them myself. The whole process just seemed complicated and intimidating so naturally I decided to just go ahead and jump in with both feet! I had some great conversations with a few select fermentation enthusiasts (I will name no names…love you Mom…) who assured me it wasn’t all that time consuming and would help me save some grocery money. With my rubber arm twisted I enrolled myself in a four week fermentation course called “Chef Franks Fermentation Fundamentals”. My aim is to expand my horizons and perhaps stop spending so much of my monthly grocery budget on kombucha…
Check out the course here–>http://www.threelilyfarm.com/fermentation/
So for me, one of the coolest parts of taking this course is that I get to keep all of you gorgeous, intelligent, witty and hopefully hungry readers in the loop as I go. Fair warning: in the weeks to come, I’m getting pickled and so are you! I’m going to try and post a fair number of my fermented recipes for you and I encourage you all to try them for yourselves. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments or get at me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. I’ll try to be as helpful as I can and OMG I can’t wait to learn to make Kombucha!!!
Here are my thoughts on Week 1:
Gathering the Gear – I was starting from scratch and I didn’t have an extravagant budget to put into any fancy expensive equipment. Translation: I’m rich in enthusiasm and sarcasm… not so much in the cash-on-hand department. So I did some asking and found that, like any hobby, there are luxury items that are nice to have and there are the non-negotiable things you need to complete the fermentation process and pass go. Non-negotiable items include glass jars, airlocks, weights (Pickle Pebbles!), infrared temperature gun (I know a gun right? So bad ass! I totally do the Charlie’s Angels thing when I use it) and of course ingredients to ferment. So I’ll run through these below.
Glass Jars – Either save them from canned goods you purchase and snag some metal ring style lids or you can order some from Amazon or just head on down to Canadian Tire and grab a flat of gallon jars and lids to go with them.
Check them out here–>1 Gallon Glass Jars
Airlocks– You have a couple good options here and really it’s going to come down to personal preference.
On the left we have a water seal airlock. This one I have not used but I heard through the grapevine that they work really well.
On the right we have a water-less silicon airlock that I have been using and really like. It’s simple, colorful and hilariously nipple shaped. Win-win-win!
The water airlock will run you a little more than the water-less airlock so that’s something to keep in mind.
Check them out here–>Airlocks
Weights– You are looking for Pickle Pebbles or weights here. I went with the Pickle Pebbles because they’re obviously awesome and it’s fun to say: Pickle Pebbles. Seriously though, these are really functional just make sure that you order the size that matches your jars. Whatever you choose to use it will just help to keep those vegetables below the liquid in the jar so that everything is airtight and no undesirable bacteria grow. As a fermenter and pickler, undesirable bacteria is your #1 enemy. If Pickle Pebbles aren’t your thing you can also find stones in your outdoor spaces that will work just as well. Be sure to boil them for 5 minutes prior to using.
Check them out here–> Pickle Pebbles- Wide Mouth
Temperature gun– You’ve got to be packing heat if you want to ferment. This piece of high tech infrared gear is essential for ensuring your ferment is sitting at the right temperature. Why do I care about this, you may ask? Proper temperature is crucial to get a proper ferment filled with good bacteria vs. that pesky undesirable bacteria. These things aren’t all that expensive and they have so many perks! You can pretend you are a sniper or play with the cat like it’s a laser pointer. Full disclosure: I walked around my house for a solid 2 days measuring random temperatures of inanimate objects. I learned that with few exceptions the room really is room temperature. Riveting stuff here, folks.
Check them out here–>Temperature Gun
I ordered everything on Amazon because of free shipping and competitive pricing that beats the big-box stores where I live. I try pretty hard to support local businesses with my grocery shopping but with things like this it can be hard to justify double the price for some of these items. If you feel better about it have a look around and see what you end up finding.
Once I had all of my gear taken care of the course itself provided some great videos and lots of discussion to get me comfortable with the whole process. I’m a visual and kinesthetic learner (in plain English: a do-er) so I found this course really matched up with my learning style. Chef Frank also shows you around his massive garden, which I’m not ashamed to admit I’m mega jelly of btw, and he shows you how to utilize your fermentables once they are well “pickled”.
Ok, so that was the longest one I’ll write on this, I promise. Now gather all the gear you need and stay tuned for some fermentable recipes!
Whole U Nutrition Fermentables hands on classes coming Summer 2016!
Thanks for reading and please share any comments or your experiences below. I love hearing feedback on these posts so let me know how you like it! For tasty recipes and other interesting blog entries follow me on Facebook!
Brooke Carragher, C.H.N- Certified Holistic Nutritionist
Whole U Nutrition- A Whole U Approach To Wellness